Body and soul I was myself again. I was born anew. I basked in the flames that I had created. I remembered minimal of my past still, but I remembered the magic that I could wield. On wings of blackened nightmare I rose into the sky and wiped the stain of these pitiful mages clean from the streets. Helios was not far off, and as the fires consumed her men, she did not turn. She had no care for the lives I had just obliterated. It was ironic how she stood as a symbol of purity in my mind.
As I watched her fade into the distance, I acted in a moment of pure spite. I summoned up all my ability in essence and skewered her where she stood. A giant spike rose from the ground and impaled her as I approached. When I got there, much to my surprise, she was still alive and squirming.
“How did the Mage’s council manage to perfect immortality” I asked politely. She spat in my face.
“Now, now, spitting isn’t going to help. I just want some information, or have you been turned?”
“Very strong light magic. I’m the only one who could pull it off”
“And they kept you around... for me?”
“Why else? I’m the only one who can stop you, and now you can’t kill me”
“Let’s put it to the test shall we? you may not die, but you can certainly feel pain” My arm extended and warped itself into a small blade. I cut along her dangling leg and she screamed in pain.
“Now, how can I unlock the rest of my memories?” She spat in my face again.
“Again with the spitting? You know I hate to ruin this wonderful body of yours, but I need answers” I began skinning the flesh off of her arms. I knew it would regenerate eventually, or she would regenerate it with magic. She was a strong enough healer that she could pull it off.
“So, back to my question. How do I unlock my memories.”
“Damien!!!” I heard the voice from behind me as Angela approached. “I can answer that for you, let her go”
“She killed you, I couldn’t let that go unpunished”
“And you resurrected me, like I said, let her go” I released the spike that held her, and it dissipated like mist.
“Run away, Helios, and don’t let me ever see you again or your death will be slow and painful in ways you could never imagine” I said to her as Angela and I walked away.
“The amnesia spell that held you was a clever working. you need to come in contact with a specific aspect of the portion that was locked to unlock the portion. It sounds confusing, but because you came in contact with a person who you completed your magical training with, it unlocked your magic.”
“Got it, what are the other portions my memory is divided into”
“It depends on who cast the spell, they can divide it however they wish”
“So, how do I know what will unlock what”
“Links to your past, we need to find things that link to your early childhood”
“We’re heading north aren’t we.”
“Unfortunately, we must, regardless of the warning, we have to”
“Great, what do we do about the dwarf?”
“Whatever you want.”
“Oh, this is going to be fun” my hands began to burn in anticipation.
“Dwarf!” I yelled into his house, which had unfortunately been destroyed in the onslaught. “Get out of here you little rat bastard, I need your assistance!” Angela stood off to the side, I don’t know what she was doing, but her goddess wouldn’t allow her to witness the torture without doing something to stop it. I glanced back at the house, saw movement, and snared him with my essence.
“Please, sir, spare me, I was only doing it for the money, it was nothing personal, I never meant to harm you, Damien, sir? I helped you at the end, didn’t I. Have MERCY!!!!”
“Shut up, Dwarf. I don’t remember who I was before still. I just have a grasp on the magic. I can be merciful. I’m not who I was before so you can stop the groveling. Much as I want to torture you, I require information and thus need your help. If you answer correctly, then I’ll spare you the torture. Question 1; who does Helios work for now? She didn’t feel inclined to mention the Mage’s council.”
“She works for a variety of people, she’s a self-employed merc”
“Good, Question 2; Why did you call her for a compliance order”
“My employer is a subsidiary of the Mage’s Council. There is a warrant out for your arrest with a reward of several million dollars or death for several billion”
“Why? What did I do to deserve that?”
“She... didn’t explain it to you.”
“Angela?” he nodded
“No. Hey! Angela! Don’t worry about your goddess not approving, I’m not torturing him, apparently there were a few things you forgot to mention.” Angela looked scared while she walked over.
“Angela, explain yourself, what did I do?”
“My goddess forbid me to tell you until the time was right. Apparently it is now, so here goes nothing” She said reluctantly. “You were once a general for the Mage’s Council forces. You rose through the ranks quickly because of how much power you had. You were the pride of your hometown because of how quickly an orphan off the streets became a general. You were the pride of the entire nation of Mages. When I was young, we learned about who you were, every Mage schoolchild knows the story by heart. Every battle you ever fought has been reenacted by one group or another. All except your last one.
Your lieutenants didn’t like the thought of being led by anyone who wasn’t nobility. The prevailing concept was that the nobility were the only ones who could produce strong Mages. Your last battle was a stand at Hell’s Gate. The only passable terrain between Mage and Vampire territory. After 3 years of constant war with the Vampires you were sent up there to resolve the situation because it was thought that if they saw your might in action, the Vampires would leave us alone. It was also thought that we could take the fight to them and root out the vampire infestation. When you got to the battle you had 3 full battalions of men. Over 30 thousand fighting Mages. Most of them were comprised of the nobility, with the lower ranks filled with low level peasant mages. When the time came for battle, every nobleman deserted you and left you to die with the peasantry. You were left with a 30 platoons of peasant mages, roughly a tenth of the fighting force that you started with. Almost none of the mages were high level, there was a mix of Firestarters, Healers, Streamworkers, Woodsmen, Machinists, and Birdwhisperers. The only high level Mages you had were your best friend from your early days in the Thieves guild, who was an Anarchist class, and an Archivist. Seeing as the Archivist wasn’t allowed to fight, but was only capable of recording the events and was completely neutral, your story got recorded, but almost everyone around you died. Your friend survived the fight, and worked for the Mage’s guild until his death many years later from old age. All the peasants were listed as KIA,so that means they either died or, like you, were bitten and dragged off. That is where your story goes cold for about 100 years before you come back with a vengeance.”
“Well, that explains the less than warm reception. The nobility don’t like me”
“You were seen as a hero to the people. When you returned, you led a peasant revolt against the nobility. The people didn’t care that you were a vampire, because the nobility were taxing them immensely and burying them in bureaucracy. The people were starving in the streets and you, along with a few thieves guild connections, laid waste to the noble line and established a new council. One that was based off of merit and not line of succession. The people heralded you as a hero, until once again they were well off and your kind... excuse me, our kind... became viewed as evil.”
“Wait, I was a member of the Thieves guild? Maybe that would be a good place to start the search for the return of my memories. Dwarf!”
“Where is the Thieves guild in this city?”
“I don’t know, I don’t consort with thieves.”
“How about an arms dealer?”
“Why, and what would we need one of those for?” came the query from Angela.
“No mage is going to use a human weapon, probably seeing it as primitive and weak. That is, if I understand anything of Mage culture from what you told me?”
“Yes, that is correct”
“Well, would they expect a mage as powerful as me to use anything except my natural weapons?”
“So, Dwarf, Where?”
“It’s downtown. If you promise to let me go, I will show you where, but you are going to need cash. Weapons don’t come cheap.”
“Leave that to me”
“Oi, Guard, Let me in, you Fucking bastards!”
“What’s the ruckus Dwarf?”
“Got me a bounty who needs attending. He just woke up and he ain’t happy with his current predicament. I want him off my hands, and quick”
“Who’s the Bounty?”
“THE Commandant Damien?”
“And, how’d you pull that off?”
“He needed a place to crash after a bout of amnesia from an amnesia spell, and the person who found him was a close friend. Any way it happened, I want my money”
“Come inside, and hurry! The guards will take him off your hands”
“Oi, I want my payment”
“Come to my office, and we can discuss payment.” I was marched into a large castle by the magic resistant handcuffs the dwarf had slapped on me. The guards dragged me down into the dungeon. I can just imagine the look on Angela’s face tomorrow, I hope she doesn’t defy her goddess and kill off that dwarf. It wasn’t my best plan, and I might have been able to make money an easier way, but this was a quick way to do it. I spend a few days in prison to avoid the suspicion falling on the dwarf, then I destroy this place and get out. I was marched through rows and rows of whispering prisoners before coming to my cell. My cellmate greeted me as I was unceremoniously thrown in.
“Hullo Mate, wassup”
“Nothing, besides the fact that I just got thrown in jail”
“Not cool, dude. Good ta meet ya. name’s Casey”
“Nice to meet you”
“So, you’re The Commandant”
“Yes, apparently that was my title”
“Cool, it’s goo’ ta meet anotha brother”
“Yeah, a brother in ta Thieves guild”
“Well, that’s just convenient, I need to talk to the members of the Thieves guild in this city.”
“Most o’ dem are ‘ere”
“How about a weapons dealer?”
“talk ta da cyborg, Destro.”
“What kind of weapons does he carry?”
“In jail, dunno, but outside, he’s got everyting”
“... And if I broke every... brother, as you call them, out of jail?”
“You’d make sum gooood friends”
“I’ll talk to them tomorrow, goodnight”
“Casey said you wished to speak to me” came a voice from behind me during the time allotted to be outside. I turned and I almost ran into his chest. Let me say, I am not short, but a giant cyborg puts my height to shame.
“Destro, I presume. Casey has spoken to you about my needs, as well”
“No, but your idea to break out is futile, and to initiate a full jailbreak is useless. You are handicapped by the bracelets they have given you, any magic with the intent to destroy is shut down immediately”
“I realize that-”
“Your vampirism is held in check too”
“I realize that. If you’d allow me to continue, you would understand that. All I want you to do is to prepare everyone for a full jailbreak in two days. I don’t care if the guard’s notice. If I can manage to break us out, can you repay me with access to a fully stocked weapons cache?”
“I promise, on my allegiance to the Thieves guild”
“Good, now leave me be, I have preparations to do” He walked away. I began a cleansing ceremony. My memories of how magic worked gave me the knowledge that there were only two ways of building up magical ability. Cleansing worked to build on magic that already existed, or my ability as a vampire to suck essence from another. If I could complete the preliminary workings now, this evening I could unlock that kernel of energy, my reserve that was never before tapped. It would give me the edge I needed to destroy this place. I meditated, selecting and erasing every image I had of death and destruction. Likely, what had limited my growth further was the ability to cleanse myself, my life on the streets provided too many dark memories. There lay some good in the amnesia after all. I felt cleansed as the daylight began to fall and we were summoned to return into the prison. I encountered Casey in my cell again.
“I’m going to require absolute silence from you.”
“Sure, thing sir”
I sat on the floor and began conjuring a ball of essence. The mist flowed down my arms and to my hands, little tendrils reaching a grasping each other to coalesce into a shimmering sphere. The sphere remained a dark hue, but now it had calmed and was not as rough as it once was. I reached into it and splashed the dark material across my face. It felt cool and liquid on my skin, I let it seep into my body and throughout my body I grew warm. With every time I splashed it against my face, it felt colder and colder, until I reached that little kernel at the bottom. I touched it, and held it in my hands. It felt like I was touching the bark of an ancient tree, suddenly it blossomed into a lotus flower. The bark broke apart, softened and split during this process. It then became a worm, then a beetle, which rolled itself up into a little ball, which became mud. It felt cool and hard in my hand, like a marble. It flattened itself out along my hand and formed these beautiful intricate runes on my hand. It sunk in and I collapsed. The last thing I heard was Casey yelling for guards to help.
I woke in the infirmary with a beautiful redheaded nurse standing over me, scanning my body with her abilities.
“Damien, so good to see you again. If you ever pull a stunt like that again, I will put you in the hospital, you won’t have to do it for yourself”
“How long was I out?”
“A day, magic fatigue”
“What time is it?”
“You’re just in time for outdoor time”
“Get out of the prison.”
“This place is about to turn into a war zone”
“If you say so, the cuffs should hold you though.”
“Out” I ripped the cuffs off of my arms, destroying the magic that bound them to me. A guard took notice and was instantly vaporized. Angel took the role of frightened nurse and ran out of the infirmary. This was a good a signal as any to the prisoners that something was about to happen. I ripped open the walls of the prison and rose out over the courtyard on wings. Destro noticed below and began bellowing orders to the prisoners that belonged to the thieves guild. This being human territory I forgot the guards carried guns, and a violent spray of bullets was directed at me. I could feel each bullet rip through the air before I heard the cacophony. I raised a wall of essence, a cocoon of sorts, against the bullets. When the cacophony stopped, I returned fire. The battlements were lit up like a supernova. I then used my essence to rip a whole in the battlements so that the people could escape. Destro stood below commanding the people and making sure everyone was safe and got out.
“Well played, friend”
“And you too, my cyborg friend”
“How did you break the bracelets”
“They are only built for a certain amount of power, I accrued some more since the last time I had such a strong reputation.”
“Well, whenever you need weapons, give me a call. My number’s on the card.” He handed me a slip of paper with a number on it.
“Hey, Damien!!! Can we keep him?!?!” Angela had snuck up on me with the head guard in a headlock, and a gun pointed at his head.
“No, he’s old enough, you can have some fun with him, but at the end he’s got to be put down. Sorry.”
“You’re no fun” she promptly proceeded to tear him limb from limb. It was one of the most gruesome sights I had ever seen. Being a vampire must have changed her.
“Don’t you have a goddess to please?”
“She abandoned me, when she found out I’m a vampire.”
To all friends near or far
Enjoy these days, for eventually you’ll be king
For now, I’ve got a landscape to mar
Some day a bard will sing
A song of death, and turmoil and scars
leading to a life with many wonderful things
For now, let’s head to the bar